'There would have been a vote to convict (Trump) with a secret ballot': Sen. Coons

George Stephanopoulos interviews Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., on “This Week.”
6:00 | 02/14/21

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Transcript for 'There would have been a vote to convict (Trump) with a secret ballot': Sen. Coons
We're joined now by democratic senator Chris coons of Delaware. Do you agree with the 9/11 style commission? I do. This was a remarkable week, a powerful week. I think the house managers, obviously congresswoman Dean and congressman Raskin, and a very talented team put on an incredibly powerful and compelling case, but there's still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear. A 9/11 commission is a way we lay bear the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath president trump really was. So there's more to learn, and you played a key role in working out the compromise accepted by the house managers, walk us through the argument you made and what was going on in those couple of hours of confusion yesterday morning on the senate floor. Well, a number of senators promptly started talking to each other about what was the path forward with the unexpected request by the house managers for additional witnesses, and as lead manager Jamie Raskin recognized right after the trial, they could have had 500 more witnesses it wasn't going to change the outcome. Once Mitch Mcconnell made it clear he intended to acquit even despite the compelling evidence, what the house managers needed wasn't more evidence or witnesses, what we needed was more Republican courage. I'm grateful to Dr. Cassidy and the seven Republicans who joined with every Democrat in voting to convict president trump, this was the most bipartisan verdict in American history. A strong rebuke to president trump but frankly, at the end of the day, the trial had reached its natural conclusion and I'm grateful for the terrific work the house managers did. So you don't believe that a full trial, more witnesses, more documents, would have better served the cause of justice and accountability? I do think that we need to spend months and months unearthing all the evidence that can possibly be gotten to through a 9/11-style commission. At that time I didn't think that spending months fighting over additional witnesses would have changed the outcome of this trial one bit and the house managers agreed, many senators were making that point that they had as many votes on the republicanide as were possible to get. Frankly they got more than even I expected given if you look back a year the impeachment trial of president trump that happened a year ago only one Republican voted to convict. What about a secret ballot, would there have been 67 votes? Yes. I'm fairly certain there would have been 67 votes to convict with a secret ballot. Mitch Mcconnell immediately following this vote, despite voting to con victim on flimsy constitutional grounds, said president trump is practically and morally responsible for the assault on the capitol and a number of Republicans have already come out and said there should be further accountability whether through a criminal trial or through some other path towards being barred from office. I frankly think there were a majority of Republicans hanging their hat on a not very compelling constitutional argument and we need to find a way that we can deliver that accountability. Ultimately, it's in the hands of the American people. But I do think the Republican party is deeply divided right now. I'm grateful for the seven Republican senators and ten Republican house members who stood up for the constitution of the United States. You're a lawyer, do you agree with these calls for more criminal -- I think there's grounds for further proceedings, both civil and criminal, against former president trump. I'm also focused on moving forward with delivering urgent pandemic relief, the strengthening our economy that president Biden has been focused on since becoming president even during this week of the impeachment trial. President Biden had bipartisan group of senators over to the white house to talk about pandemic relief, rebuilding infrastructure, restarting our economy, I think that phase of accountability moves to the courts now and we in congress need to move forward with delivering the expanded unemployment checks, the stimulus checks and the reinvestment in our economy. You're a close ally of president Biden, closest ally in the senate, have you spoken to him since the verdict, number one, and, number two, given like this pandemic relief at least the first bill is going to be a partisan effort, how does he build on that promise he made in the campaign to bring the country together? Well, George, let's be clear, president Biden has met and spoken and spoken with bipartisan group of senators, there are ten Republican senators who are still negotiating with the white house, with a group of Democrats about trying to find a bipartisan path for an appropriately bold and broad relief package. If they get to a number and scope that meets president Biden's goals I think that's a good outcome. But we in the house and senate, Democrats have provided a path way if a month from now as unemployment checks are on the verge of stopping for ten million Americans, we can proceed with a democrat-only bill. President Biden is uniting the American people, he's moving forward with relief that has the support of three-quarters of the American people. And from the way he spoke at inauguration, to the actions he's taken in his first couple of weeks, he's showing what real presidential leadership looks like, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, he ran on unity and he's delivering unity for the American people. Senator coons, thank you for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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